By Collin Brooks
Gallery at the bottom (Photos by Collin Brooks)
It wasn’t the “We Believe” message spelled out on by mothers’ T-shirts as they stretched the length of the David Crockett bench as the players found their way back from a halftime speech.
It was the alternative to winning.
That was the fuel to the fire under David Crockett that propelled them to a 63-50 win over Tennessee High on Tuesday night in the District 1-AAA Tournament at Science Hill.
“I just told them that if we didn’t turn it around then we will be doing something else, baseball or whatever, and the kids just came and played for each other and turned it around,” a cheerful David Crockett coach John Good said after the game.
Senior Josh Releford led the way with 28 points, with 10 of those coming in the third quarter as the Pioneers outscored the Vikings 22-9.
“That is all I could think about, is that all we had to do was go out there and take care of business and everything will fall into place,” said Releford, recalling a victory during his sophomore season against Sullivan Central that was win-or-go-home contest.
Although the biggest smile came to Releford’s face when he referred to how teammate Paul Arrowood played, racking up 10 points, nine blocks and seven rebounds.
“Paul, that’s my guy right there. I am glad that he came to play, because you saw, he gets rebounds…and he played great defensively,” Releford said. “He did great, I love Paul.”
The tempo was set at the end of the second quarter after Arrowood was able to gain four of his six points off offensive put-backs in the final minute. Releford then drained a 3-pointer from the corner to finish with nine points and give the Pioneers a 28-25 lead into the locker room.
A quiet Arrowood was still stone faced after the game.
“Coach is always after us whenever we are playing bad and playing weak and it just lit a fire under me and got me going,” Arrowood said.
Good said that he was happy to see his center step up on a big night.
“His size and being able to block some shots and he got a lot of rebounds. He gave us an added dimension that we hadn’t had in a while,” Good said.
The two teams went back and forth in the opening quarter, but the Vikings would strike first, scurrying out to an 8-2 lead. The Pioneers were able to close out the quarter with a 8-1 run, sparked by five points from Kamara Bradley to take a 10-9 lead.
Tennessee High sharpshooter Mike Mays scored 14 of his 18 points in the first half of the contest and he took extra time at the end of the handshake line with both Mays and his father.
“He’s a great player. I’m going to miss watching him, not miss coaching against him,” a smiling Good said after the game.
Tee Johnson finished with seven points for Crockett, while McHale Bright contributed five points. The Pioneers will now take on Science Hill on Friday at 5:30 p.m., but the win on Tuesday night secures them a regional bid. That wasn’t lost on any of the seniors..
“That could have been my last game, that was the biggest game of the season,” Releford said. “Now we just have to try and keep it rolling.”